Memories of a father
- On March 12, 2004, Thai human rights lawyer Khun Somchai Neelapaijit disappeared. He was last seen being forced into a car by unknown assailants and driven away. At the time of his disappearance he was representing clients from the Muslim community in Southern Thailand accused of attacking an army camp.Following international and domestic outcry, five policemen were indicted in June in connection with his disappearance. But progress in the case has been disappointing. The trial, which began in August 2005, was based on charges of gang-robbery of Mr. Somchais car, watch, pen, and cell phone, and "coercion by threatening bodily harm or death." Thai authorities claim that the absence of a body is an obstacle to more serious charges of kidnapping or murder. A Senate committee announced in May that it had little hope of solving the lawyers disappearance due to poor cooperation from the police.Khun Angkhana Neelapaijit, Somchais wife, has written about the disappearance of her husband. A part of her writing follows.Introduction to Memories of a father Thai edition
Early in 2005 I read Memories of a father by Professor T.V. Eachara Varier (see http://www.ahrchk.net/pub/mainfile.php/books/158/ for details of this story) in English and am glad that this book has been translated into Thai while retaining the beauty of its words. This book is not only valuable as literature reflecting part of a human being, but also this book is a life, a fact and a truth elaborately narrating the pain, misery and cruelty that humans inflict on humans.
Prof. T.V. Eachara Varier and I may not be very different. He lost a beloved son while I myself lost not only a husband but also a father of five children, the one who was the main provider and head of the family. No one can imagine the cost of this loss until one has the direct experience.
In this region, countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand have the image that they are undergoing material growth, are proud about the human rights given on paper and the international treaties with which leaders try to show off that they are worldly. In reality, in the darkness of society there are still the traces of loss, teardrops and suffering of people who have not had the chance to be heard by anyone, whose wounds have never healed, and who have never felt justice. These are the truths of these suffering people the sound of even whose loudest noise never reaches the powerful.
What happened to my family as well as Prof. T.V. Eachara was due to the unlawful practices of state authority: authority that is used to harm anybody, anywherein the middle of the street, in the middle of the city, in front of many people; authority that can make anyone disappear from their family, society, from the ones that loved them and from the ones that they loved. From the testimony of eyewitnesses in court, the image of [my husband] Khun Somchai being pushed into [his abductors] car returns to my mind. I know very well what Somchai would have been thinking about at the moment that death was at hand. Nevertheless, I believe that a human rights defender such as Khun Somchai would never have surrendered his ideals, aims, hopes, and principles to save his life. The culprits have never recognized their wrongdoing. They are still too arrogant because of the protection and support of the powerful. This leads to nothing but more and more violence. Disappearances will be repeated with impunity.
On the surface Thailand appears to have beauty, peace and material development, but deep down violence and misuse of authority are still taking place. Suppression and torture are so common that people are used to them. The violence and discrimination of state authority against the powerless has caused pain to innocent people. No one knows how grief and misery from loss and injustice cause more pain than that from a death. This is a wound that is deep in the heart, which cannot be seen nor touched but reflects well those injustices in the society.
I am writing this piece while Bangkok is getting cold. But deep in my heart, I am freezing, lonesome, solitary. Encouragement and hope for justice are getting less. I am asked to receive compensation instead of justice. I am forced to be convinced that there is no justice in this world. However, I always believe that I will find my husband, the father of my children, today or tomorrow, in this world or the next. I believe that beyond human laws there are universal laws and what goes around will come around. Finally, I strongly believe that there is justice in the hands of God.
November 2005Visit my web page at http://daga.dhs.org/maxYou don't make peace by talking to your friends; you have to make peace with your enemies. Nelson Mandela"It's not enough to pull drowning victims out of the river; we need to walk back upstream and find out who's throwing them in." Bishop V. Gene Robinson
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